The nation was thunderstruck this week, when Ash Barty, favourite and golden girl of Australian sport, world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player, at the height of her powers at age 25, announced that she is quitting tennis! She said that she has achieved all she could have hoped for in tennis, and that’s where she wants to leave it.
I think there are at least a couple of important lessons in Ash Barty’s decision. Firstly, there is more to life than tennis glory. Our culture tells us to achieve, achieve, achieve, and never stop achieving. It’s as though, achieving here and now is the only real kind of ‘heaven’ that there is. It’s intriguing how we ‘immortalise’ and ‘deify’ cultural heroes – especially sports stars! Barty says that there are other important things she wants to do in life, that will probably not be ‘glorious’ at all, and that she’s perfectly content with that!
The other lesson is in Ash Barty saying that she has seen and accepted her limits. She knows how much hard work that it has taken to get to the level she has, and that she simply couldn’t keep doing that. But she knows that she will have the energy and drive to do the other important, less glorious, things that she wants to do in life. And again, she is content with that.
The Bible teaches us those same lessons. The best that we can achieve here and now is only fading glory; the glory that remains forever is the kingdom of God (Mt 6:19-20). And yes, our life here and now is limited – and is meant to be – so that we will come to the only limitless resource – i.e., the grace of the eternal God (Is. 40:6-11).
Grace and cheers, Jonathan.